ATLANTA — Roy Halladay sees no reason why he can’t return to the form that made him one of baseball’s best starting pitchers.
It may take some time, but Halladay still believes in himself.
“I’m going to fix it,” he said. “I’m going to fix it. It will be fixed, and the results will be better.”
Halladay was knocked out in the fourth inning of Philadelphia’s 9-2 loss to the Atlanta Braves on Wednesday night.
Justin Upton, Jason Heyward and rookie Evan Gattis homered for Atlanta, and Paul Maholm pitched shutout ball into the sixth inning. Freddie Freeman had three RBIs.
Halladay (0-1), who struggled with a sore shoulder last season and had a 6.06 ERA in six spring-training starts, gave up five runs and six hits in 31/3 innings. The two-time Cy Young Award winner struck out nine but dropped to 0-4 with an 8.00 ERA in his last seven starts against Atlanta.
The game was played in a steady drizzle, but the conditions hardly affected Maholm (1-0), who allowed six hits in 52/3 innings. He struck out six and walked one.
Upton belted a two-run shot in the first to give him a pair of homers in his first two games with the Braves. Juan Francisco also singled in a run as Atlanta quickly built a 3-0 lead.
Gattis led off the fourth in his first major-league game with a drive to left. Maholm struck out, but Halladay’s night was over after he issued a walk to Andrelton Simmons.
“I’m frustrated,” Halladay said. “I should’ve gone deeper than that. Not aggressive enough early in the count. Went deep in counts, and really that’s the most frustrating part. I felt like two pitches were hit hard.”
Raul Valdes came in and walked the next two batters before Freeman hit a bases-clearing double to make it 7-0. Freeman has driven in six of Atlanta’s 16 runs in the first two games.
Maholm struggled last year against Philadelphia with an 8.64 ERA in two starts. But the left-hander stranded runners in scoring position in three of the first four innings in his first start of 2013.
Cory Gearrin replaced Maholm with a runner on first in the sixth. He walked one before striking out Erik Kratz.
The Phillies were just 1-for-11 with runners in scoring position.
Halladay recorded his first eight outs on strikeouts, but he needed 79 pitches to make it through the first three innings. He was trying for win No. 200 and a spot alongside New York Yankees left-hander Andy Pettitte as the only active pitchers to be 100 games over .500.
“We did wear him down,” Heyward said. “We did make sure that we got some pitches to hit and we hit them hard.”
Phillies manager Charlie Manuel believes Halladay is looking better despite Wednesday’s result and some rough outings he had in spring training.
“I think he’s ready to pitch,” Manuel said. “We think he’s ready to pitch and we want him to pitch. What the hell? That’s kind of how I look at it. He says he’s well. The doctors and trainers say he’s well. The (pitch) location is what’s going to put him through.”
Heyward tacked on a two-run homer against Jonathan Papelbon in the eighth.
Chase Utley had a two-run double in the seventh for Philadelphia. Utley appeared to score a third run, but plate umpire Mike Everitt called Michael Young out for runner’s interference at first and the inning ended.
Notes: The Braves struck out 16 times. ... Freeman has reached in six of his eight plate appearances this season. ... Philadelphia shortstop Jimmy Rollins played his 1,794th game to tie Richie Ashburn for second place on the Phillies’ career list. ... Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard is 0-for-8 with three strikeouts. ... The Phillies dropped to 2-6 in their last eight games at Turner Field.